“I am here today to cross the swamp, not fight all the alligators.”
-Rosamund Stone Zander
Economic developers make a difference each and every day throughout our country. I’ve witnessed it repeatedly and in so many ways that it’s hard to count.
- Small business and community finance professionals help to take an entrepreneur’s idea and turn it into a small business using the tools and partnerships that they’ve formed with banks and public programs.
- Businesses that have made financial missteps or have experienced a serious disruption are saved not only by committed leaders, but pieced back together by economic development technicians finding a way to retain the business and reposition the company.
- New businesses are brought to suffering communities to revive their finances and their self-esteem.
- Shop floors are optimized to lead a company to profitability through the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships that exist around the country, and workforce issues are resolved by talented workforce professionals helping to match hard-working people with jobs that will change their lives.
In each and every case, an economic or community developer played a role to put all of the messy parts into a package that was able to be leveraged and maximized so that opportunity, jobs and investment occurred.
Most of the time it isn’t easy. It doesn’t quite fit into a perfect box and, perhaps, it has never even been done in your community before. However, it is done thousands of times each day and it makes our communities and country much stronger than most.
I don’t write this to glorify my economic development colleagues, that is the last thing they would want. I say it because everyday we are presented with new challenges in our local economies.
Sometimes these problems cannot be resolved, but so very often you will find yourself saying, “We can do that?”
Let’s work this week to find positive answers to hard questions, to help a business grow and thrive, to save a single job or maybe a hundred.
We can do that.